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China starts making GPUs for supercomputers

Posted on Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 15:05:26 CEST by

VR Zone delivers word that China is preparing to move into the GPU market. Chinese engineers have already developed a number of processors, including the SPARC-based FT-1000 which is used in the country's Tianhe-1A supercomputer along with Intel's Xeon 5670 and NVIDIA Tesla M2050 GPUs.
There's more to it: at the high end front, besides the academic-government MIPS and purely military, for now, Alpha, our friends in the north also developed their own Fengtian SPARC compatible processors. For now, these are not used as the main CPUs, but as I/O processors in some large supercomputers to help manage the ultrafast interconnects, twice the Infiniband QDR speed, that the country uses in their largest machines such as Tianhe. These interconnects have the SPARC CPU to manage the general I/O, and a NPU, network interconnect processor, with most of the protocol overhead hardwired. Therefore, the main Xeon or other CPUs in the cluster don't need to be bothered handling the interconnect I/O overhead, raising the total real system performance.

However, don't be surprised to see these SPARC processors go further in the near future, to become main CPUs in specific uses, even with much faster FP units, for instance - the current units are well multithreaded and multicore, as far as I understand, but without SIMD FP yet, which should appear in the next generation.
The site reports two GPU efforts are in development in China; one by the same team in the Tianhe supercomputer, and the other one is coming from the far north, in Harbin. Little is known about these GPUs, but one thing that is certain is that they will be used for their sheer computing power, the focus will be on OpenGL and GPGPU computing, and not DirectX gaming.



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